Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Angels of Death Supplement review - part 1

Ok peeps, let's get down to this then shall we? Angels of Death supplement. Review time. Let's start with the Anvil Strike Force.

First up, this strike force is available to all space marine chapters. This basically therefore puts it in direct competition with the Gladius Strike Force from the main Space Marine codex.

The big difference to start with is that the Anvil represent the space marines doing armoured warfare. Essentially, all its components either are, or must be deployable in, a vehicle.

I'm going to assume a level of familiarity of you, the readership, with the codex detachment style of selecting a list, ie the use of core, auxiliary and command forces in a force organisation chart. If you are not familiar with this style, have a read of this post, which should hopefully shed a little light on things.

Command Benefits

You can choose one of your vehicles to be your Warlord, and that vehicle can then command a vehicle within 24" to fire a second time. This is huge, though I would only ever designate a Land Raider as my Warlord from the Space Marine Armoury, the other tanks are entirely too fragile from certain angles.

The second benefit allows you to ignore the movement and shooting penalties from the crew shaken and stunned results on the damage table. This is extremely useful and will really keep the force from becoming neutered by a few penetrating hits.

Core Forces

No new things here, but formations that appear as auxiliary forces in the main marine codex are now appearing as core formations.

Two formations make up the core choices - the Armoured Task Force, and the Land Raider Spearhead. You must include one of these and can include a maximum of two of them. Two very different types of formation though, one puts a really tough core out there, which played properly will be practically impossible to keep quiet without totally destroying a tough vehicle, whilst the second is far more vulnerable but is capable of putting out a bigger quantity of firepower covering a wider spectrum of targets.

Auxiliary Forces

I'll refrain from going into too much detail here on formations already in the main space marine codex, and just detail those represented in the supplement. Those forces from the main codex that can form auxiliary choices in this strike force are the suppression force (whirlwinds), the anti air defence force (stalkers and hunter), and the storm wing (storm talons and storm raven).

So in addition to those, which pretty much cover the whole range of weaponry and targets you could wish to bring, you can add:

Mechanised infantry
One of basically any of the infantry units in the main codex. They have no special benefits, although the detachment must include a transport vehicle for each infantry unit. Now it doesn't actually specify here that the transport must be a dedicated transport, so by using the land raider spearhead formation as a core detachment, you can instantly provide transport for 3 infantry units you might want to take.

Raptor Wing
One of the formations 'ported over form the Kauyon supplement, this is a real crowd pleaser for me, and I think you'll see it in use a lot as a result of this supplement. Two Storm Talons, and a Landspeeder. For special rules, the Storm Talons will automatically arrive on turn two if they're still in reserve then (sneak peek - wait for the Raven Guard detachment to see why this is meaningful!) and the Landspeeder can designate targets for them to give them re-rolls to wound and to penetrate armour. Wow, I've tried using the Storm Wing several times before and the prohibitive cost of the Storm Raven in the formation, combined with the underwhelming firepower it puts out really devalues it for my money - the Storm Talons are awesome and one of my favourite space marine units so having very little tax to be able to include them, and a tax that actually makes them even more effective makes me a very happy man indeed.

Techmarine
Another unit entry option, allowing either a solo techmarine or a thunderfire cannon with no special rules. Realistically in a vehicle heavy force, a techmarine is an extremely useful unit to have. If you take the armoured task force as your core unit you're not going to be short of options for thunderfire cannons (unless you really want to overdose on them) so the techmarine option makes more sense to me. Remember though that the techmarine is an infantry unit and will therefore need to have a transport option if you include him.

Recon outriders
A single unit of landspeeders with no benefits. I think the key thing here is that the landspeedeers provide something that the rest of the force can't - fast moving serious anti-tank firepower, with innate mobility. The land speeders can deep strike in with multi-meltas to drop major firepower on the enemy, or bring heavy flamers to thin out horder armies (take thunderfires' instead - they're better at it). Land speeders can be kept cheap if you want them to be, so I'd be seriously tempted to take a fleet of them using this strike force.

Honoured ancients
A unit of dreadnoughts. Hmm, now I really like dreadnoughts, but if I'm honest they're a little underwhelming in the current climate. What I can go with though is a unit of contemptors (or several, you're not limited for auxiliary choices except by points) with kheres assault cannons. These guys with their invulnerable save make them just about palatable in a competitive environment despite their high cost. Not a prime choice by any stretch, but acceptable certainly.

Command Forces

Two choices here, and ones we've simply not seen before.

Masters of the Armoury
Ignoring the obvious HE-MAN reference in the title, this lets you take one of a selection of tanks, and includes the command tank variants sold only at Warhammer World. Sergeant Chronus is also an option. No special rules for this one either.

Keepers of the Forge
Combination of a techmarine and either a rhino or a razorback. Again no special rules. I guess, in theory at least, that the transport here could be used as a transport for an infantry unit - the rules on transports aren't clear (shock!) as they don't declare if you have to have a separate transport for each unit or simply enough space in transports to embark all units at the same time.

Sergeant Chronus can actually be included in any of the formations in this detachment rather than as a command choice, in which case he replaces one of the vehicles in that formation.

Conclusions

Ok so as I said at the start, this force is available to any space marine chapter (as far as I can make out, that doesn't include Dark Angels, Blood Angels, Space Wolves or Grey Knights as they have their own factions in the rulebook). It represents a pretty thematic force, and brings with it some fairly tasty command benefits. Being able to fire one of the vehicles a second time can make a huge difference, depending on what you choose, and is certainly capable of making a significant difference in a game.

The one that I think really makes this detachment work though is the ability to move and fire normally after suffering crew shaken and crew stunned results. The biggest issue to using a tank army under the current rules is the ability to lock down vehicles by causing these results, so being able to ignore them makes this army both more mobile and able to keep up the damage output in most circumstances.

I had ideas of creating an army based on vehicles in my mind already, so this strike force has really crystallised that in my mind as something I want to do (I may even postpone the Bromheads to get this army functional first).

I don't think this detachment will change completely the balance of power in the space marine faction, because White Scars are still top dogs in my view, but the benefits are certainly good enough that we'll see a greater variety of marine forces on the tabletop.

If I were going to use this detachment to put together a strike force, I think I'd pick up both core options, then add in either a raptor wing or recon outriders to fill up to the points level. For the armoured task force I'd bring lots of predators and thunderfires, and probably vindicators to take down any elite units.

Tune in next time for a look at the Scarblade Strike force of the White Scars.